Britain’s advertising agencies are staffing up again as the massive
job cuts made during the depths of recession turn into serious manpower
shortages in the improving economic climate.
The upswing is reflected in new census figures from the Institute of
Practitioners in Advertising, which show that 500 more people are
working in IPA member agencies now than were a year ago.
’The pendulum is swinging back,’ John Bartle, the IPA’s president,
’This isn’t just feelgood - it is good,’ he added.
IPA executives say they are heartened by the fact that staff numbers are
swelling because there is an increasing willingness among agencies to
start recruiting trainees again.
Figures released this week by the IPA show that the number of staff
employed by member shops rose from 12,300 to 12,800 in the year to
The trend is born out in the growing popularity of IPA courses for
agency beginners. The number of such courses held have risen from 150 to
180 over the past year.
Nick Phillips, the IPA’s director general, said: ’The fact that agencies
are recruiting again at the bottom end is very encouraging because these
people represent the industry’s lifeblood.’
The latest figures are in line with the steadily rising numbers of
agency staffers in IPA shops, which sank to a low of 11,100 at the end
of the recession in 1993.
Nevertheless, the number still lags behind this year’s predicted growth
rate for advertising and is way below the 15,400 figure for people
working in agencies when the industry was at the peak of its
profitability seven years ago.
’Agency managers are still being very cautious and the demand for
greater productivity means numbers will never return to 1989 levels,’
Phillips added. ’Also, agencies are making greater use of part-time
But Andrew Robertson, the managing director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO,
warned that the additional staff might not necessarily be the right
’I suspect a lot of the hirings are in account management and media,’ he
said. ’That’s not necessarily wrong, but it shouldn’t be at the expense
of creative departments where the cuts were longest and deepest.’